The Book of Numbers – Trifling with Temptations

We have been studying the story of Balaam and Balak and how they found it difficult to defeat God’s people and the spiritual battle that they engaged in, with the hope to defeat the people of God.  Despite King Balak’s pressure and Balaam’s desire to do otherwise, this false prophet consistently pronounced blessings on Israel. In the end, Balak dismisses Balaam, sending him home without renumeration.

In Numbers 25, we read of one of the great sins committed by the people of Israel.

Defeated from Within

Num 25:1-3 “While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate the sacrificial meal and bowed down before these gods. So, Israel yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor. And the Lord’s anger burned against them.”

Through the people’s sexual immorality with the Moabite women and their worship of Baal, Israel dishonoured God in ways that they had been instructed against. In Leviticus 18, very specific laws were given by God to the Israelites. Israel is to be careful not to practice the abominations of Egypt, from which they have been delivered, or of Canaan, which they are about to possess.

In verse 2 we read they were invited to the sacrifice. It began with an invite to be there, not necessarily to partake in it, the next we see that they partook by eating the food sacrificed, committed immoral acts and then eventually they bowed down and worship Baal. This progression cautions us to be wary of not treating lightly things or situations that can lead us to sin.

I share something a pastor once preached, he said one man who took the train every day to work came to him and asked for prayer for strength to not give in to temptation. There was this beautiful woman who took the same train with him, and he found himself on spiritual shaky ground. The pastor told him, it is good and necessary to pray to stand strong against temptation, but you also need to ensure that you just take a different train.

How often does the enemy try to trip us up and ensnare us. We are to be aware and remember that allowing ourselves to remain in the presence of temptation is dangerous, we need to remove ourselves from situations that can lead us down a slippery slope.

I share a quote by Robert J. Morgan “Every time we resist the slightest temptation, we honor God. Every time we overcome even the smallest problem by trusting and obeying our Lord Jesus, God is glorified in our lives. Whenever we choose character over convenience, faithfulness over ease, or honesty over deceit, we bring honour to the Lord Himself.”

The Fickle nature of man

In Numbers 31:16 we read, “Look, these people, through the counsel of Balaam, caused the Israelites to act treacherously against the LORD in the matter of Peor—and there was the plague among the community of the LORD.”

Although Balaam’s name is not mentioned in this chapter, we learn from Num 31 that it was through the counsel of Balaam that the men of Israel were invited by the Moabite women to their god’s sacrifices.

Through Balaam’s interaction with Yahweh, whom he tried to coerce to allow him to curse the people, Balaam realised that the one true God was not fickle but faithful to His word, His promises and His people. And so, if God is not prone to wander from His word and his faithful nature, Balaam focused on the fickle nature of man’s heart to lead the people away from God by worshipping other gods and seducing them to break the law of God.

For us: Just like Balaam here, Satan too knows that he cannot move God to distance himself from us and so he preys upon our weaknesses to distance ourselves from God and seduces us to succumb to our desires and sin.

God does not change, he keeps his word, it is a strength we can rely on to help us walk righteously. We do not have to navigate our weaknesses and temptations in our own strength, because as his word promises he is with us always and through him we can overcome. But at the same time, we are to know God’s word well enough to walk the narrow path and not be led astray and to follow that knowledge with intentional living for God. And that will require sacrifice of self. As Romans 12:1-2 teaches us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices and not to conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed through the renewing of your mind.

I share a quote by Michael Youssef “Contrary to the world’s beliefs, the spiritual fruit of self-control does not come about through the discipline of self-mastery, but rather through surrendering ourselves to God’s control. None of us fully have the power, capability, or wisdom to master our own lives. You cannot resist all the temptations that are hurled at you, control the behaviour of those closest to you, or limit the ideas that pop into your mind. What you can do is surrender your life to the Holy Spirit. You can control how you respond, yield, and submit to Him.”

One Person can make a Difference

We learned that Israel succumbed through the counsel of one man, but we also learn of another man who stood for what is right and did not tolerate evil.

When the people sin, the Lord’s anger burns against them and he instructs Moses to “Take all the leaders of these people, kill them and expose them in broad daylight before the Lord, so that the Lord’s fierce anger may turn away from Israel.” (verse 4)

Then an Israelite man (Zimri) brought to his family a Midianite woman (Cozbi) right in front of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weeping at the entrance to the tent of meeting. We here see the contempt shown by these two people for the holy things and the word of God. Phinehas, the son of Eleazer, the son of Aaron, takes a spear and puts them both to death. Then the plague against the Israelites stopped, those who died in the plague were 24,000.  

God’s anger towards Israel was assuaged through the actions of Phinehas. His Zeal for God’s righteousness turned away God’s judgement. God makes a covenant of peace with Phinehas, that he and his descendants will have a lasting priesthood.  Phinehas took a stand for what is right, it does not mean that we can resort to any means to make a stand. Remember that God instructed Moses to put to death the leaders of these people (verse 4) and so Phinehas in this instance was acting very much in accordance with God’s instruction here.

Phinehas was one person, and he made a difference. Sometimes we wrestle with the idea of us not making a difference or having any impact. But I ask you, take a moment and reflect on the fact that wherever you are right now, wherever God has placed you, it is not by accident, but by his divine design. He has a plan and purpose for you. So, ask yourself how can I honour God’s faithfulness and uphold his righteousness and make a difference where he has placed me?

God Bless.

32 thoughts on “The Book of Numbers – Trifling with Temptations

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  1. This reminds me of a story I once heard. A man went down a street and fell into a large hole and it took quite some time to get out of it. He did this for a long time until he decided to take another street. God gives us strength to resist temptation.

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  2. Excellent post, Manu!!!!! I love the quotes, I will be writing each of them down, thank you!!! I appreciate your pastor who said to take a different train. That was wise counsel and common sense. Christians need wisdom, discernment and common sense more now than ever so that we can resist temptation and obey God. Thank you sister for your faithfulness to God’s Word and His people!!!! 🤗🤗🤗🧡🧡🧡🙏🙏🙏🐶🐶🐶

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    1. Thank you Mandy. This was said by a pastor at a friends church and she shared it with me. I found that such good advice. We have to pray but also make sure that our actions do not lead us to remain close to temptation all the time as the enemy is just waiting for a chance to pounce.
      God bless you sister. Hope your studies are going well and Nathan and PQ too are doing well.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Balaam couldn’t outrightly curse them for they were blessed, but he found a loophole where they would bring a curse on themselves….

    Isn’t this like the way we are told the devil prowls around looking for someone to devour ?…We are warned to be watchful and vigilant…If he cannot directly attack us, he will lure us into sin so we can bring a curse on ourselves.

    Lovely post Manu! Blessings ❤️


  4. Manu, this is so good! If satan can’t get to you one way, he will try another. This is certainly a reminder and a reason to keep our armor in tact and in good condition. We need the Sword (Word) to fill us up and let it not depart from our mouths. If Jesus battled satan with the Word, that should tell us how much more we need it💕

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We need to follow God’s Word and path for us being alert to avoid the roadblocks and “scenic detours” the devil tries to lead us toward.
    Manu, thanks for making Number interesting!😊 Have a great week! 💖💐🌺

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I like the quote by Pastor Youssef. It’s a reminder that what we need to change does not just come from our own efforts but from God’s power working in us. We cannot overcome the self nature on our own. The question you asked at the end is thought provoking. Contributing to His purpose in this life should remain our top priority. Thank you Manu. I hope you are enjoying your weekend. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I just had this conversation with my unbelieving husband “We are to be aware and remember that allowing ourselves to remain in the presence of temptation is dangerous, we need to remove ourselves from situations that can lead us down a slippery slope.” He chooses temptation and he settled down after we had a long discussion. Thank you God.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. May God bless your words and you as you speak these things to him Marla. It is never easy. I share something I read elsewhere- The value and the beauty of every story is not always found in an ending we want to see but sometimes in the very fight itself. Because that is where we depend on God, trust him more, put on the armour and face our challenge.
      God’s blessing and presence be with you and strengthen you my friend 💙💐


  8. Today I was listening to a song with these words trust and obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey and it makes me love the quote you shared Every time we resist the slightest temptation, we honor God. I love the priests advice to that man to take the next train. That’s Joseph’s way. Usually it’s hard to fight the enemy because the battle is never ours so it’s always good to Just RUN😅

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am very familiar with that song. My mum used to hum that often. Absolutely sis, sometimes the best thing to do is run. Flee from the devil.
      Blessings 💙💐


  9. Had to copy that Robert J. Morgan quote into my journal. Wonderful encouragement to please God, and in the process please ourselves with guilt-free, righteous choices. Also appreciate your conclusion, as I prepare for a meeting tonight. It’s not by accident, but by his divine design I’m a member of this group; He has a plan and a purpose in it. It IS my prayer: May I honor your faithfulness, Lord, uphold your righteousness, and make a difference in the lives of these people, AMEN. Thank you, Manu!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That quote touched me too, I found it powerful. Thank you Nancy. And I join you in your prayer. What we might sometimes think as regular or nothing spectacular is important as God has placed us there. May we serve him in whatever capacity wholeheartedly.
      Blessings to you 💙💐

      Liked by 1 person

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